Battle for UP: Free rations versus stray cattle


Varanasi: As campaigning ended on Saturday, the main narrative that has emerged from the Uttar Pradesh election is that of the free ration and DBT schemes of the Modi government pitched against the issue of unemployment and stray cattle.

People in several districts where polling will be held on Monday spoke at length about how the free ration helped them during the pandemic and the fact that it’s continued has helped them plan their budget. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and its alliance partners, however, are hoping to garner the support of the youth by raising the issue of unemployment.

The seven phases of the Uttar Pradesh polls come to an end on Monday with voting for 54 assembly seats. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.

With each phase, political parties tried to build narratives on issues ranging from the migration of people to the new farm laws (since repealed) in western Uttar Pradesh, nationalism to terrorism along with development to inflation and unemployment.

For people, however, free ration, DBT schemes, unemployment and stray cattle are the key talking points in the last and final phase of the elections.

The ruling BJP has aggressively raised issues related to Hindutva and nationalism while highlighting the development and welfare initiatives of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Yogi Adityanath government in the state.

Many in the saffron camp believe that free rations to over 15 crore people twice a month since the outbreak of Covid will immensely benefit them along with free vaccines.

Madhu Devi of Varanasi South constituency said that she has been receiving free ration twice a month since the start of the Covid pandemic. “(Narendra) Modi aur Yogi (Adityanath) ne hamra dhayan rakha hai, hum bhi denge (Modi and Yogi have taken care of us, we will also take care of them),” she said referring to the free rations provided by the government.

She also mentioned that Prime Minister Modi has transformed the city by building roads and other infrastructure.

While mentioning making Uttar Pradesh free from ‘mafia raj’ and ‘gunda raj’, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur highlighted the welfare measures of the BJP government for the people.

“The BJP government has provided 43 lakh pucca houses to the people, uninterrupted power supply to each household, tap water to 30,000 panchayats, free ration to over 15 crore poor twice a month and free two doses of Covid vaccine, while ensuring overall development of the state, free treatment and welfare schemes,” Thakur said.

The saffron camp also believes that the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes will also help as the people directly get the money under different government schemes like PM Awas Yojana, PM Ujjawala Yojana, Jan Dhan Accounts, PM Kisan Nidhi Yojana and others.

However, the BJP’s political opponents feel that people will vote on issues like inflation, unemployment, farmers’ problems and stray cattle.

Stray cattle turned out to be a major political issue from the middle of the election campaign and it forced the Prime Minister to talk about it at an election rally and assured the voters that it will be resolved when the BJP comes to power after March 10.

“Stray cattle are a major issue and all the political parties are ignoring it,” said Chandrama, a resident of Mau district.

Unemployment is another major issue and the ruling BJP claims that the government has created opportunities to provide jobs while the opposition claims that there are no jobs for youths.

“Three crore people have got self-employment or employment opportunities so far,” Thakur had said in an interview to IANS.

Ghazipur resident Shyam Singh said that unemployment is a major issue and Prime Minister Modi is working hard to address it but at the local level things need to be done in a better way.– IANS


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